The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








What to do with an old wedding dress

A wedding dress may hold sentimental value, but realistically, what else are you going to do with it? Wear it again for Wedding No. 2? Frame it? Or, more likely, will it remain stashed away in storage or take up room in your closet 27 Dresses style?
Lots of people actually do re-sell, said Mary Mattingly, owner of I Do Again in Milford, and she would have taken my editor Meghan Siegler’s old wedding dress had the tulle at the skirt’s bottom not been ripped.
“It looks like it’s been kept clean. It’s been kept in a bag,” Mattingly said. “But this gown here is ripped along the bottom, so that’s something I wouldn’t take. Just because people are buying a gown in a consignment shop doesn’t mean they want to buy something that’s damaged. … Alterations are one thing, but getting it fixed is another.”
However, the owner could still make money with this, she said, if she wanted to invest in getting it fixed herself — it could be an easy mend for a handy seamstress, involving trimming the tulle and re-hemming the bottom.
The dress was a little older, but it had some of the qualities brides today are looking for, like cap sleeves and fine beading.
“It’s a Bridal Originals, a known brand — they’re still in business — but if it didn’t have that rip, I would probably accept it, and it would probably get priced $250 to $300,” Mattingly said. “And typically, if I’m selling a lower-priced item, the consigner usually receives 40 percent of what’s sold.”
Currency, cleanliness and condition are top priorities for Mattingly. She’ll take colored dresses, prom dresses and maybe older dresses if they’re still in fashion, but those items are hit-or-miss. She pointed to a consigner who tried to redo a ’90s gown to look more modern.
“We’ve had no interest in it. Whoever did the sewing did an amazing job, but still, nobody has had any interest in it whatsoever. They can take it back, or I can donate it,” Mattingly said.
Few places take wedding dress donations, but for old prom gowns, Mattingly suggested Prom to Remember out of Boston, whose pieces go to girls with cancer, and Jordan’s Furniture.

Trash to Cash: Clothing

By Kelly Sennott

 Instead of tossing clothes you no longer wear, you may be able to sell your items, or at least help them find a new home where they’ll be worn or used again.

Is it valuable? To gauge whether your clothes are re-sellable, first look at their age. Are they brand-new? A few years old? Ten or more years old? Generally, the newer the garment, the more valuable it is. You’ll be more apt to sell your old wedding dress, for instance, if it’s been hanging in your closet only a few years rather than a few decades. You’ll also get more money for it, according to Mary Mattingly, owner of I Do Again in Milford.
“Typically the girl looking for a wedding gown here wants something that’s under 10 years old because the styles change,” Mattingly said.
So style is another thing to look at in your pieces. For wedding dresses, Mattingly said lace is the big thing, while prom-goers today like bright colors, blue especially, spaghetti straps and cap sleeves. Forget anything from the ’80s or with big sleeves. 
“A lot of people will bring us dress outfits for men and women, suits, and they’re still in perfect shape — obviously people keep their dressier clothes nicer — but people don’t buy pleated pants or pants with cuffs at the bottom anymore. They’re in perfect shape, and people say, ‘Why aren’t you taking it?’ Because nobody wants to buy it! It has to be in style,” Karen Goddard, owner of Mother & Child Clothing and Gifts in Amherst, said via phone.
Check that zippers, buttons and snaps still work and see that the clothes don’t look worn or have stains. Also check the brand; Goddard said Free People and Anthropologie sell well now, as do bohemian (layers, flowy, scarves, sweaters) and Southwestern (plaid shirts, cowboy boots, Ralph Lauren) styles. For kids, Goddard pointed to Oilily and Janie & Jack. If something has a tag still, even better. 
How to sell it: The easiest way to make money is to bring clothes to a consignment shop — but check to see what the store takes. Some businesses sell just women’s clothes, some just kids’, some just bridal, and most only accept garments in season — so right now, it’s all about spring and summer clothes, with pastel or neon colors for women, Goddard said. And some stores also only buy certain brands. For instance, Mother & Child doesn’t take Old Navy or Walmart, among other stores, because it can’t afford to process the items while still making money for the store and consigner.
What you get for each article of clothing will vary from place to place too.
“We generally try to charge one third for what it would go full price brand new. If something has a tag on it, or if it’s something super in demand, we might be able to do it with a little bit more,” Goddard said.
There are things you can do to make your clothes sell better and faster. Mattingly mentioned someone who had sold her old prom dress at the shop the day before — the girl had sewn loose beads back on, and she’d also had the dress dry cleaned. Take the time to iron or steam your clothes, and you’re also more likely to earn a few extra bucks. 
“We steam everything really quickly, but you can’t make it look as nice [that way] as if it’s ironed,” Goddard said.
If you don’t want to or can’t go the consignment route, social media is another way to sell, independently or otherwise. 
“I post every dress I get here on Facebook. I’ll have girls drive up from Cape Cod, Vermont or Maine just … because those pictures are there,” Mattingly said. “Other people use social media too. I see people posting wedding items, prom items on all kinds of Facebook sites. And certainly I think people can sell things that way.”
The bright side to selling independently online — Facebook or Craigslist for example — is you can take all profits. The downside: It’s more work. Plus, if it’s a piece like a wedding dress, the buyer will likely want to stop by to try it on beforehand. 
There are other sites you can use to make cash too, like, and 
The outlook on selling and buying used clothes has changed for the better the last 10 years.
“When I first started, many people would bring me their clothes but they wouldn’t buy anything. People would definitely say, ‘I don’t buy used clothes.’ Recently, I haven’t met anyone saying that,” Goddard said. “I think it’s become more prevalent. People have realized that, people who buy secondhand clothes don’t do it because they don’t have any money. It’s green, it’s money going back into community — there are all kinds of reasons people buy second-hand.”
How to donate or trade it: If you can’t or don’t want to put the effort into selling, you can still get a lot from donating — even if it’s just the satisfaction of knowing your clothes are getting better uses. 
One option is to host a clothing swap at your house and invite friends who also have clothes they no longer want. Swap around, and you may leave with a bag full of “new” clothes. Another option is to donate items to a local or national thrift store, where you could still get some money — sort of. Keep the receipt, and at the end of the year you may be able to claim a tax deduction for the donation. 
You may even be surprised at what you don’t have to add to a landfill.
“Goodwill takes any clothing at all. It can be torn, stained, doesn’t matter — give it to them, and they’ll sort through it,” Lorraine Falcone, professional organizer and owner of Naturally Organized, said via phone.
Whatever clothes Goodwill can’t sell will go into the organization’s rag program, which painters often buy in bulk.

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